Honolulu Swap Meet offers outdoor bargain shopping for souvenirs and more

Written by: 
Bruno Maynez

The open-air Aloha Stadium Swap Meet showcases vendors offering a variety of items like ukuleles, wood carvings, postcards, and more. BYU-Hawaii students said the Swap Meet is a great place to buy souvenirs at a low price and bargaining with sellers is suggested.

The Swap Meet is located 20 minutes from Waikiki and is open three days a week on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Students said people looking to bargain shop can find deals and save money there.

Upon entering this local bazaar, tourists, students, and residents can find signs saying “Big Sale,” “Best Deal Today,” or “Buy One, Take One.” Children can be seen playing with half-melted shave ice running down their arms and dripping on their shirts. Tourists can be seen lining up for spray-on henna and Polynesian tattoos.

Andino Bima Mahreza, a freshman from Indonesia majoring in HTM, said, “My opinion on the Swap Meet is it is a good place to find a lot of souvenirs. They sell clothes, food, earrings, etc. However, one thing I noticed about the Swap Meet is we can bargain with the sellers.” Buyers can try bargaining and chatting up the vendors selling leis, aloha shirts, and straw hats. Items for sale include quilts, school supplies, and even helicopter rides.

Explaining further on how to bargain at the Swap Meet, Mahreza said, “It’s a big place. So when you go, make sure not to stop at one shop only, but go around and look other shops as well. I just talked to the seller and asked, ‘Can I get a cheaper price?’ First she said no, but then I left and she called me back. I bought pants. They were selling it for $20, but I only paid $15.”

Students looking to find cheap clothing may stumble upon finds such as one vendor who displayed a big, yellow sign with red lettering saying, “Big Sale T-Shirts, 7 for $20 or 1 for $4.” Sun dresses and lava lavas are also for sale.

Roche Acosta Donato, a sophomore from the Philippines majoring in business management, agreed with Mahreza that “the Swap Meet is a cool place to buy souvenirs. They got cheap stuff there. If you don’t see stuff to buy at a certain store, there’s more on the loop. There are lots of options of things to buy.”

Musically inclined shoppers can find ukuleles priced from $25 to $85. The ukuleles can be found in traditional colors like light brown, but also in pink and turquoise. Additionally, there are snacks such as shave ice, peanuts, and fresh coconut for $1 to $5.

At a glance, the items being sold seem to be a great money saver, but in reality, most shops at the Swap Meet are selling the same things at around the same price. For example, beach items like towels can be bought at 3 for $25. But shoppers can take a 5-minute walk in any direction and encounter the same towels at the same price.

Novelty items like jandals are sold in more traditional colors like black, brown, and light tan. They are also available in different colors like pink, light blue, and even green.

Students looking to buy leis for graduation or other events can find them in many colors and designs. Leis can go from $1 to $5. One of the lei vendors, Auntie Annie from the Philippines, said she runs her shop with her husband. She joked, “I’ve been selling leis forever. I’ll keep selling here until I turn to rust.”


Date Published: 
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Last Edited: 
Thursday, September 6, 2018